An 8 Year-Old Shoots and Kills Someone After Playing Grand Theft Auto – So of Course It’s the Video Game’s Fault, Right?


Video games were responsible for a glut in the suburban lemonade market in the early 1980’s (Via

In a truly tragic story, an eight year-old boy in Louisiana shot and killed an elderly woman, identified as his 87 year-old “caregiver.” According to CNN, the boy shot the woman in the back of the head shortly after playing Grand Theft Auto IV. You might be tempted to think “How did an eight year-old kid get a loaded gun?” is the most important question, but you’d be wrong. CNN notes that the gun belonged to the woman, but that’s about all it says about the gun. The article is all about how the video game might have driven the boy to murder, because the truly important question is what sort of media influence might inspire a young child to kill his caregiver (except don’t say anything about the gun itself).

While the motive is unclear, the sheriff’s department implied the child’s activities in a violent virtual world may have led to the killing.

“Although a motive for the shooting is unknown at this time investigators have learned that the juvenile suspect was playing a video game on the Play Station III ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,’ a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred.”

Did you notice the part of the story CNN left out? The part where the kid picked up a loaded gun.

The article goes on to provide denials from the video game industry, but lets the other side have the last several words. Continue reading


Canada in the Caribbean?

20130510-174319.jpgI am writing this in the midst of five days of doing nothing in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The specific details of my trip are of no concern to my reader(s), but I have learned a few interesting factoids about this place. I had actually never heard of these islands before we started planning the honeymoon a few months ago, but I would not mind staying here a few more years.

– The Turks & Caicos are a British Overseas Territory, like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and others. Aside from tourism, its economy is largely based on banking, which also gives it much in common with the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
– They are geologically part of the same island chain as The Bahamas.
– The UK government suspended the islands’ government in 2009 amid accusations of corruption, imposing direct control over the territory. It restored local control in 2012. As a tourist, you don’t get much of a whiff of these goings-on.
– This is definitely not the gun-crazy United States. In April 2013, police arrested two Americans in separate incidents, an 80 year-old from Florida and a 60 year-old Texan, at the Providenciales Airport (where we arrived on Tuesday.) Both are accused of trying to smuggle a single bullet out of the islands. Not a gun, a bullet. The Royal Turks and Caicos Island Police Force put it in appropriately unfamiliar terms (to American ears, anyway):

If you suspect or know of anyone in possession of an illegal or imitation firearm; or ammunition, DO NOT approach or try to apprehend them. Call the Police on 911

They were each allowed to go home, but must return to the islands on June 7 so a judge can decide whether to drop the charges or commence proceedings that could result in five-year prison sentences. For a society that derives upwards of 80% of its revenue from tourism, this might not be good.

Hey, didn’t you say something about Canada?

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot. Apparently Canada has explored the possibility of Turks & Caicos becoming a new province several times in the past century. The Turks and Caicos Islanders seem to favor the idea by a wide majority, and it could have quite a few advantages for Canada (aside from the obvious having a warm place to hang out.) Canada has hemmed and hawed on the issue for what appears to be a multitude of complicated domestic political issues. Not that I know much of anything about the issues, but I say go for it! (If the idea of Canada having a province in the Caribbean seems odd, ahem, Hawaii.)


So We Don’t Have Background Checks. Big Whoop.

450px-Open_Carry_of_a_9mm_Browning_Hi_Power_in_Eagle,_ColoradoI’ve been thinking about the vote in the Senate yesterday, and how a handful of red state Democrats supposedly betrayed the rest of the country, and so forth. The first thoughts that popped into my head were (1) just because a majority of Americans want something does not, by itself, make it a good idea or the right thing to do, and (2) legislation often works best as a formalizing process of a society-wide shift in attitudes. These two somewhat-contradictory ideas apply to gun regulation in the sense that, while most people seem to want background checks and other relatively modest regulations, and while the NRA can’t seem to address these issues without hyperbole and mendacity, the fact is that background check legislation, and similar laws, will be doomed to failure as long as the self-described “law-abiding” gun crowd seems predisposed to fight tooth and nail against them. I have seen no arguments against modest gun regulation that weren’t reduceable to “Regulation, registry, Nazis, oh my!” and quite frankly, I’m tired of trying to argue with people who refuse to address the issue at hand and tend to speak of everything in apocalyptic terms. As long as we tolerate people who have more respect for their guns than for their fellow citizens, none of this is ever going to get better.

The odd thing about all of this is that I’m actually pretty pro-gun rights, but I can’t stand shoddy arguments and uncompromising, extreme rhetoric. So here’s my point: Continue reading


I Tried to Avoid the Guns-as-Phallic-Symbols Angle… (NSFW?)

…but my search for images licensed for re-use led me to this picture, titled “Male-Kink”: Continue reading


My Right Not to Get Shot


So, uh, this happened…

I alluded to this earlier, but it merits its own discussion: I am standing up for my right to not get shot. Sure, it is not expressly stated in the Bill of Rights that I have a right not to be the unwitting victim of someone who forgot to clear his chamber before carrying his gun in public, but I shall posit that I have the right nonetheless. Call it a penumbra right, or one of the rights guaranteed by the Ninth Amendment that the Supreme Court is too lazy to address.

Consider this: no one, to my knowledge, has ever successfully challenged a conviction for unlawful discharge of a firearm on Second Amendment grounds. Laws prohibiting homicide, several centuries of jurisprudence would suggest, trump any individual’s right to bear arms (whether you can keep your gun after a criminal conviction is a different question, and has been subject to much legal wrangling.) See, no one is seriously threatening to come and take your guns. It is both unconstitutional and ridiculously impractical. The NRA says that to get you to buy more guns. It’s not a conspiracy, because it’s really obvious what the NRA is doing.

Moving on to individual discussion about guns, if your first response to any critical commentary on guns is to loudly assert your Second Amendment rights, you sound like a jackass, and I no longer feel constrained by politeness to refrain from telling you that you sound like a jackass. I’m not saying you can’t own guns. I’m not even necessarily saying that you can’t carry your gun around. What I am saying is that you have no right to expect me to assume, on sight, that you are one of those “law-abiding” gun owners. Continue reading


Lawyer Live-Tweets Delaware Courthouse Shooting, Draws Ire by Daring to Speak Ill of Guns

(WARNING: I’m going to say some not-nice things about guns in this post. If this bothers you, please click this link.)

A gunman entered a courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware at about 8:00 a.m. local time this morning and shot at least four people, killing two, before police killed him. One of the deceased, according to CNN, might be his “estranged wife,” but nothing is certain, since this occurred less than two hours ago as I am typing this. I wish that I could add surprise to my disgust, but someone deciding to resolve things with their estranged spouse via bullets is not an original solution. My main impetus for buying a handgun in 2008, in my lawyering days, was out of a sense of discomfort around certain opposing parties in a few lawsuits.

What is still relatively novel is the phenomenon of live-tweeted tragedies. Anyone who has lived through a traumatic event knows that thoughts come in random and unpredictable ways. Anyone who makes frequent use of Twitter knows that people can now share those thoughts in as long as it takes to type 140 characters or less into a handy smartphone. They also know that a quick thought sent into the Twitterverse may be subject to extensive deconstruction by people who have the luxury of not being in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, and who will presume to know better than that person how they should have responded.

That brings me to my point. I have never met Jennifer S. Lubinski, nor have I ever been to Wilmington, Delaware. We are privy to her thoughts on the experience, though, thanks to social media.


I guess mentioning the NRA was her big mistake. As we all know, guns don’t kill people. That guy could have just as easily walked into that courthouse with a knife, baseball bat, or extremely taut rubber band and killed the same number of people, because shutuplibertySecondAmendmentFREEDOM. One might be tempted to call that hyperbole, but minor challenges to the sanctity of guns tend to bring out the sputtering and syntactically challenged among us. I really see no point in blocking out the names on these gems, especially since I am mostly going off of the tweets that Ms. Lubinski herself retweeted, or that were made in direct reply to her. Continue reading


Making it a Little Harder for Crazy People to Do Crazy Things

[I started writing this in July 2012, but never posted it. Events that have transpired since then make it necessary to leave a field blank, because my comment may apply to multiple events.]

The tragedy in _________________ was not the result of secularism, the lack of Ten Commandments in public school classrooms, same-sex marriage, or the wrath of any angry deity.

The truth is, we do not know exactly what happened, and we may never know why. The shooter [might not even know why/is dead]. All we know is that a dangerous individual, sporting military-grade weaponry, killed a lot of people and wounded many more.

For all we know, he was determined to hurt and kill people no matter what. Of course we will never be able to stop all armed assholes, but is it so unreasonable to make it more difficult to obtain weaponry that would allow them to fire dozens of rounds per minute?


Even More Public Servants that We Need to Arm

From CNN (via Crooks and Liars):

A man convicted of killing his grandmother decades ago ambushed firefighters on Monday, fatally shooting two of them as they arrived to battle a blaze in upstate New York, police said.

Two other firefighters were wounded in the attack in the Rochester-area town of Webster. A police officer from the nearby town of Greece suffered minor shrapnel wounds when his vehicle was hit by gunfire.

Investigators believe the suspect, [name redacted by me because fuck him] set the original fire, then likely set himself up on a berm with a clear view of the scene and started shooting.

“It appears that it was a trap,” Webster Police Chief Gerald Pickering said. “There was a car and a house that were involved in flames, probably set by [some asshole with a gun], who laid in wait in armament and then shot the first responders.”

The asshole who shall remain unnamed by me also managed to destroy much of his neighborhood by keeping other responders away, before apparently offing himself.

For several hours Monday, the threat of gunfire stopped firefighters from battling the blaze and forced police SWAT teams to evacuate 33 people in the neighborhood of small waterfront homes.

Eventually, seven houses were “totally destroyed” by the fire. Although the fires were under control as of 2:30 p.m. ET, by then authorities still hadn’t been able to get in any of the homes. Pickering said it’s possible more victims could be inside.

“I’m hoping that everyone was able to escape from the inferno,” he said. “Those houses were close together.”

All of this happened on Christmas Eve, and all because a convicted killer with some pretty serious mental health issues got his hands on some guns, and then decided to kill firemen.

I don’t much care right now about the shithead who did this. Two people are dead, on Christmas fucking Eve. Via the Associated Press:

– Lt. Michael Chiapperini, 43, had been named Firefighter of the Year just two weeks ago, and he led the fire department’s Explorer program for young people interested in becoming firefighters. He had recently taken vacation time to help recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. He also was the public information officer for the Webster Police Department. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son, who also worked with the fire department

– Tomasz Kaczowka, 19, was a 911 dispatcher for Monroe County. He also was a member of the Explorers group that Chiapperini advised, had worked at a fast-food restaurant and had been a member of the fire department for about a year. One of three brothers, he was studying at Monroe County Community College. On his Facebook page, he said he could speak Polish and German.

I’m politicizing the shit out of this. To those who don’t think we should politicize incidents of gun violence, are firefighters any more worthy of your attention than kindergarteners?

I assume someone will make the disappointingly obvious and bad suggestion that we should just arm the firefighters. Many in this nation may not think firefighters should have collective bargaining rights, but we could at least give them guns. We could also post armed guards at fires.

We could also try to address mental health while working to keep the more insanely non-recreational guns under control, and by that I mean talking about mental health as more than just a way to try to

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